A Paranoid is someone who has all the facts – William Burroughs
When the election ended the Left’s claims grew louder.
The Russians hacked the election.
Except they didn’t.
When Donald trump assumed the Presidency, the Left’s claims grew deafening.
President Trump colluded with the Russians.
Except he didn’t.
It all seems a bit unreal.
The truth might be even crazier.
On January 3, 2017, Attorney General Loretta Lynch became the final signee to a new set of rules allowing the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with 16 other intelligence agencies. This was reported on January 12, 2017 by the New York Times. As the Times article notes:
“The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.”
The article also contains a brief discussion of the FISA Amendments Act:
“After Congress enacted the FISA Amendments Act — which legalized warrantless surveillance on domestic soil so long as the target is a foreigner abroad, even when the target is communicating with an American — the court permitted raw sharing of emails acquired under that program, too…National security analysts sometimes search that act’s repository for Americans’ information, as do F.B.I. agents working on ordinary criminal cases. Critics call this the “backdoor search loophole,” and some lawmakers want to require a warrant for such searches.”
What the Times didn’t note was the unusually strange timing of the new rules. Why would the Obama Administration – with only 16 days left in office – pursue such a dramatic change in surveillance policy between agencies?
On January 19, 2017, the NYT ran an article titled “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides.” Interestingly, that title has now been retroactively changed to “Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates. The article made a number of claims:
“American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said. The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him.”
The Times also noted they didn’t know if there was any validity to the claims they were making:
“It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself. It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and other attempts to disrupt the elections in November.”
Apparently the title change and the reporting in the article provided some confusion for readers and a quandary for the Times – to such an extent that the NYT Public Editor Liz Spayd felt compelled to publish an editorial on March 8, 2017, “Does Times Reporting Really Support Donald Trump’s Wiretaps Claims?”
“Both The Times and Trump have referred to wiretaps. Both have referenced White House knowledge of the investigations. And both have described efforts by officials from the Obama administration to involve itself in the continuing investigations of Trump and Russia.”
“Yet there are also significant differences. For one, as The Times (and others) has made clear, these investigations have been conducted by the F.B.I., intelligence agencies and Congress, not by Obama himself. The Times has also said Obama administration officials sought to spread intelligence about a possible link between Trump and Russia to ensure a trail of evidence for investigators, but it said Obama himself was not involved. And no Times reporter has claimed that any warrants have been issued to spy on Trump or his associates.”
In other words, the Times felt compelled to clarify that associates close to Trump were wiretapped but the Times was not offering proof that Obama personally ordered the “wiretaps”.
On March 1, 2017, the NYT inadvertently reported on why the Obama Administration wanted that last minute January 3, 2017 rule change that allowed for intra-agency sharing of globally intercepted personal communications. In a piece titled “Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Hacking“, it was made clear that the Obama Administration was sharing information broadly and at low levels of security classification:
“In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.”
“It also reflected the suspicion among many in the Obama White House that the Trump campaign might have colluded with Russia on election email hacks — a suspicion that American officials say has not been confirmed.”
Just as the Times was reporting on Obama’s dissemination of information, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was coming under serious – almost hysterical – fire for having met with the Russian Ambassador twice last year after apparently answering under oath that he had not. I explore this topic – and provide some perspective – in The Left’s Russian Hypocrisy“. Contrary to numerous reports, Sessions did not perjure himself and in likelihood answered the question honestly in the context of the questioning. Nevertheless, Senator Sessions’ answer was incomplete and therefore flawed. And it led to him recusing himself – under intense Democratic pressure – from all DOJ investigations of Russian links to the Trump campaign. Which I find extraordinarily convenient in light of the sequence of events that have unfolded.
On Saturday March 4, 2017, President Trump tweeted his now infamous claim that Obama had him wiretapped. And all hell broke loose. The MSM now began an exercise in linguistic gymnastics to explain why they were not – after all – claiming that President trump had been spied upon. It was almost funny. Almost.
On March 4, 2017, in a truly entertaining bit of journalism, the NYT ran a story disputing President Trump’s tweet with the headline Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones.
“President Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower the month before the election, leveling the explosive allegation without offering any evidence.”
The reporter who wrote this story is the same one who wrote the January 19, 2017 NYT story originally titled “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
Now let’s move on to the bombshell WikiLeaks Vault 7 release of CIA tactics of surveillance. If we learned one thing from the first batch of releases it’s that the Russians should not be our primary concern. The CIA’s cyber capabilities appear to dramatically outstrip those of not only Russia but the NSA. Here’s a few tidbits:
“By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware.”
“Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.”
“The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.”
“Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”
“As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.”
“The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware.”
“The CIA has developed automated multi-platform malware attack and control systems covering Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux and more.”
“In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”
“With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”
These revelations are simply mind-boggling. The technical capability and reach of the CIA far surpasses anything generally believed. Even seasoned hacker groups seemed taken aback at the CIA’s systems. Of note, UMBRAGE allows the CIA to engage in “false flag” cyber attacks. It’s a real reach to make the assumption that it was not the Russians behind the Democratic election hacks but we suddenly have proof that the CIA has sufficient capability.
Unfortunately, the CIA was apparently not as adept at securing their proprietary systems as they are at securing your data.
This first batch of WikiLeaks CIA releases represents 1% of the total…
Suddenly the Russians seem like amateurs by comparison. And it makes claims of Russian interference without our simultaneous knowledge look suspect.
To date, there has been no proof given that President Trump colluded with the Russians. None. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated he had no knowledge “whatsoever” of evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Republican members of the congressional intelligence committees repeatedly confirm that there is “no evidence” that has been brought forward of any such collusion. Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, was forced in an interview with Chris Wallace to walk back unsubstantiated allegations against President Trump with the following statement:
“I don’t have, and I don’t know of, any conclusive proof one way or the other about whether there was collusion between senior levels of the Trump campaign and Russian officials…Chris, I have no hard evidence of collusion.”
Democrats emails were hacked and released by WikiLeaks. But there has been no evidence that the election itself was hacked into or directly affected in any way. Julian Assange has steadfastly maintained that the Russians were not the source of the email leaks. You can believe that claim or not. WikiLeaks has never been proven to be wrong in either its releases or statements.
What actually transpired seems to be an example of Democratic political over-reach with possible criminal doings on their part. The long established pattern has been to make accusations based on part-truths and innuendo. The NYT articles for which I have provided links, all sound ominous and full of factual reporting. It is only when one reads carefully does one find the caveats buried in each story. Sources are speculative, evidence is thin or nonexistent. After more than four months of these stories, nothing concrete has emerged. This is why – other than using links directly pertaining to WikiLeaks – I have sourced only the New York Times in this piece. All articles came from the same paper – and sometimes the same reporter. I am not cherry-picking from differing sources to create a cohesive example.
What likely occurred is that investigations were initiated – possibly off false or manipulated evidence – to investigate President Trump’s associates for possible ties to Russia. When no election conspiracy was found, the investigations were allowed to continue and the stories continued to be leaked. President Trump allowed the stories to build to a critical moment and then he called their bluff with his series of tweets. Or he simply lost his temper. Or – as President of the United States – he gained access to new and pertinent information. His choice of language may have been wrong – there likely was no true “wiretap” – but it is appearing likely that there was some type of surveillance.
The potential for a story over the Obama Administration’s investigation of the Trump campaign suddenly seemed a whole lot more damaging for Democrats than claims that President Trump might be entangled with the Russians.
And the media’s backpedal began.
Obama probably did not directly order surveillance but he certainly had to know about it. As Obama’s former speechwriter, Jon Favreau, tweeted:
“I’d be careful about reporting that Obama said there was no wiretapping. Statement just said that neither he nor the WH ordered it.”
The investigations and hearsay will likely go on for some time. As will the investigations. The NYT noted that:
“A senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working to secure access to what Mr. McGahn believed to be an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Mr. Trump and his associates. The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such an order exists. It would be a highly unusual breach of the Justice Department’s traditional independence on law enforcement matters for the White House to order it to turn over such an investigative document.”
No. It wouldn’t. As Andrew McCarthy at National review noted: “A law-enforcement matter is a criminal prosecution. National security surveillance is a presidential function, not a judicial proceeding. The point of conducting FISA surveillance is not to build criminal cases; it is to enable the president to carry out his personal executive duty to protect the United States against foreign threats. Consequently, it is specious to claim that, if the White House asks to see FISA court applications and orders, this would be a form of political interference in the law-enforcement mission of the FBI and Justice Department.”
And the likely existence of a FISA order is actually acknowledged later in the very same NYT article. Mark Levin’s reporting and a Breitbart article are also referenced in the NYT piece – in both cases the Times dismisses their claims:
“The Breitbart article, published on Friday, claimed that there was a series of “known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.” If Mr. Trump was motivated to take to Twitter after reading the Breitbart article or listening to Mr. Levin, he was using a presidential megaphone to spread dark theories of a broad conspiracy aimed at undermining his presidential ambitions, and later his presidency.”
What the article fails to mention is that both Levin and Breitbart were directly quoting the New York Times…
The New York Times – and to a lesser extent the Washington Post – are the primary sources for virtually all of the MSM. Take away the Times and you take away the virtually all the Leftist news sources. The virtual flood of negative stories and insinuations surrounding President Trump with allegations of Russian interference all came from the same place. They were just endlessly repeated by other news outlets. Keep that in mind the next time you read a news story.
And if it’s a New York Times article make sure you read it very carefully.
On your CIA monitored smart phone…
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older post The Left’s Russian Hypocrisy